THE Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) this week celebrated World Tourism Day by hosting a fun day for disabled and vulnerable people from Maseru and its environs at Durham Link.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) designated 27 September as World Tourism Day (WTD) 36 years ago. LTDC, a UNWTO member, hosted an advance celebration of the Tourism Day on Monday where the disadvantaged were treated to several fun-filled outdoor activities including archery, abseiling and canoeing.
The event was in sync with this year’s WTD theme — “Tourism For All – Promoting Universal Accessibility” – which emphasises the creation of a conducive environment that caters for the needs of the entire community irrespective of physical, mental or intellectual impairments.
LTDC also used the event to highlight tourism’s potential to contribute to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“As the theme states that tourism should accommodate everyone, today we are celebrating with vulnerable people so they realise their disability does not mean they are incapable of engaging in tourism activities,” LTDC Public Relations Manager Manchafalo Motšoeneng said in an interview with the Lesotho Times on the sidelines of the event.
“We have arranged activities that will show the participants tourism is fun and they are not hindered from participating. They will also be shown that they can earn a living either through crafts or other initiatives they can offer to tourists in exchange for money.
She added: “With the response they showed today, we are compelled to involve vulnerable people more in our upcoming activities as we are currently in the process of promoting domestic tourism among locals. The aim is to make tourism accessible to all. Therefore we urge all stakeholders to make their tourism facilities friendly to disabled people.”
Mafeiki Tsietsi Phatšoane of Itjareng Vocational Centre — a school for disabled people — spoke on behalf of the participants and expressed gratitude to LTDC.
“These kids don’t have a social life and only interact with their families and neighbours, making them feel as if they are not part of society,” Ms Phatšoane said.
“I would like to applaud the people who invited us. The kids were able to learn that they can also partake in different outdoor activities. They were also able to socialise in a friendly and fun-filled environment with people they had never met before. It was very touching to see them having so much fun and that proves they need more activities of this kind.”
Ms Phatšoane also said they hoped to be included in every activity done by ‘normal’ people.
“We want to be considered as part of the society in general and be involved in various activities lined up for people without disabilities as I believe today we proved that we are capable too,” she said.
“We also urge LTDC that as they organise different activities, they should also remind different government ministries that the disabled kids have many needs that need to be addressed.”